Agora - the story of Hypatia
Posted: 11 February 2010 07:46 PM   [ Ignore ]
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agora_(film)

I stumbled upon this film, I hadn’t seen it mentioned anywhere and it’s
really great. It’s the story of the life and murder of Roman scientist and mathematician Hypatia of Alexandria.
The Christians look and act like Muslim fanatics
(appropriately, of course), there’s a scene where Christians are
sacking the library to des…troy the scientific and philosophical
writings and sculptures, and the camera swings up into the sky looking
down on them and the dark-robed pious pillagers look like roaches
scurrying about - very effective.

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Posted: 06 April 2012 04:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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KevinISlaughter - 11 February 2010 07:46 PM

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agora_(film)

I stumbled upon this film . . . The Christians look and act like Muslim fanatics
(appropriately, of course), there’s a scene where Christians are
sacking the library to des…troy the scientific and philosophical
writings and sculptures, and the camera swings up into the sky looking
down on them and the dark-robed pious pillagers look like roaches
scurrying about - very effective.

And pretty wrong-headed:

http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com/2012/03/geologist-tries-history-or-agora-and.html

Mike Flynn gives a sci-fi writer’s flair to the real story of Hypatia, writing about ‘The Mean Streets of Alexandria’ (in six parts, so bring popcorn):

http://m-francis.livejournal.com/159500.html

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Posted: 07 April 2012 07:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I liked the part where Hypatia was being attacked in the Senate by the pompous Christians who said, “Why should we listen to you?  You don’t believe in anything.”

And she answered, “I believe in philosophy.”

Parts of it are inspiring, but parts of it are heart-breaking.  Watch with caution.

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Posted: 07 April 2012 07:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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inthegobi - 06 April 2012 04:35 PM

And pretty wrong-headed:

http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com/2012/03/geologist-tries-history-or-agora-and.html

What’s up with this link?  I follow it and all I get is a “Welcome to Armarium Magnus” page.  That’s it, nothing more.  Is there some trick to getting to the actual articles?

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Posted: 07 April 2012 08:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Advocatus:

Odd, I tried what you just cut-and-pasted, and it worked. Maybe something temporary? Or the browser is ‘stuck’ somehow mid-load; I’ve stopped and hit Reload with good results on one website that does that to me a lot. Or try http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com/

Tidbits from the two blogs:

Hypatia almost certainly wouldn’t have ‘believed in philosophy’; she would have believed in the One, like a good neo-Platonist.
She probably believed that *mathematics* and star-gazing were means to purifying the soul for contemplating the One
She is called an ‘astrologer’ in the ancient sources, which in those days meant roughly the celestial mechanics of Ptolemy plus horoscope-casting.
Here’s another good site, on mathematicians: http://www.gap-system.org/~history/
And Hypatia’s bio:
http://www.gap-system.org/~history/Biographies/Hypatia.html
And her father Theon of Alexandria:
http://www.gap-system.org/~history/Biographies/Theon.html

Hypatia was not attacked for being a non-Christian, not if we put together the few sources we have on her and the times.
First, no ancient source in fact mentions what she *believes*, i.e. if she’s in fact a Neo-Platonist or a Christian;
Second, many of her students were Christians: three future Christian bishops, and other high church officials;
Indeed it’s maybe a coin-flip’s chance she was a Christian herself. Christianity had a distinctly Neo-Platonist strand in its early centuries, especially among the Alexandrian theologians.
Not long after Hypatia, another woman was teaching mathematics in Alexandria. So the outrage of the mob wasn’t because she was a woman either.
In fact, she was attacked for meddling in city politics, and late Classical Alexandria, apparently, had especially ugly mob-politics.
A last quibble: Hypatia was in her sixties when she was murdered - why couldn’t Helen Mirren have played Hypatia?

The Mike Flynn articles makes a nice canned history of, as he puts it, the mean streets of Alexandria.

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Posted: 11 April 2012 06:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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inthegobi - 07 April 2012 08:53 AM

Advocatus:

Odd, I tried what you just cut-and-pasted, and it worked. Maybe something temporary? Or the browser is ‘stuck’ somehow mid-load; I’ve stopped and hit Reload with good results on one website that does that to me a lot. Or try http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com/

Nope, still doesn’t work.  At least for me.  Maybe it’s just my computer.

Hypatia was not attacked for being a non-Christian, not if we put together the few sources we have on her and the times.
First, no ancient source in fact mentions what she *believes*, i.e. if she’s in fact a Neo-Platonist or a Christian;
Second, many of her students were Christians: three future Christian bishops, and other high church officials… Not long after Hypatia, another woman was teaching mathematics in Alexandria. So the outrage of the mob wasn’t because she was a woman either.
In fact, she was attacked for meddling in city politics, and late Classical Alexandria, apparently, had especially ugly mob-politics.

Yes, this is the way the movie portrays it.  The fact that she was a woman had nothing to do with it.  One of her former students was the Roman Procurator of the city, and the Christians didn’t like the fact that he trusted a Pagan and followed her advice on things.

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Posted: 12 April 2012 09:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Sounds like it might be interesting, although the bit about taking artistic liberties might kill it for me, depending on how it was done. For example, the recent movie about Charles Darwin, Creation, was a big disappointment for me because they portrayed Darwin as if he actively hallucinated, as if he had schizophrenia or something, which was clearly not the case. That kind of artistic license is simply lazy writing.

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Posted: 13 April 2012 07:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Any historical drama is going to have a certain amount of fictional exaggeration in it.  It can’t be 100% accurate because life for the most part is boring. smile  The movie portrays Hypatia as figuring out that planets move in ellipses, for example.  Even while I was watching it, I was seriously skeptical of this claim, but it didn’t spoil the movie.  It’s still worlds better than “Gladiator”, “Braveheart”, and so on.

Basically it’s a story about intolerance.  It shows how the early Christians, even though they had been persecuted by the Romans, were all to eager to become persecutors themselves as soon as they had the chance.

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